Becoming Buff So That I Can Carry My Nintendo Switch Long Distances Without Getting Tired

I started my post bacc for medical school about a month ago, and I've been doing okay. I was originally going to apply to medical school this cycle, but I ended up postponing my MCAT and will be applying next cycle instead. I’ve unintentionally been isolating myself since January because I needed time to recover from life in general. I kept finding it impossible to do the bare minimum of leaving my own home, nevermind trying to plan for my future. I thought that being in a school setting again after my covid-ridden undergrad experience would make me feel unwell again and send me spiraling into some of the bad habits that I had during undergrad, but honestly I haven’t. There’s something about returning to classes as an older adult with more life experience that makes it feel different. I feel bad for everyone in my life that I’ve been unintentionally ignoring, but for the first time in my life, I’ve found myself without any expectations I feel like I need to meet. It took me some time to adjust to this concept, but coming around to it was liberating.

A value instilled in me young was to make sure that I never “fell behind” in life. Make sure to make myself “palatable”, and that anything I do is valuable in whatever society I find myself in. Looking back, I’ve always unintentionally valued the opinions of other people more than my own. When I subconsciously felt like I had fallen behind, I just let myself stay behind because in my head there was no point in trying to catch up. I kept self-sabotaging my own joy and self-growth over and over again. It doesn’t help that a lot of my interests would be labeled “strange” while growing up in the Midwest, resulting in me getting ostracized by my peers more than I felt I already was. I genuinely thought that there was something inherently flawed and inhumane about myself until I was about 20 years old because I was not given the privilege of being inherently understood the way I perceived my peers who had “conventional interests” and to be. I was jealous that everyone else seemed to have received a manual on how to be human while my package had seemingly got lost in transit. It felt like no matter what I did or how well I did it’d never be enough, so I was more inclined to not even try.

I needed to take 12 credit hours this summer to be a full time student. One of the classes that I chose was “Intro to Weightlifting”, because I wanted a lower stakes class to help balance out some of the harder classes I was taking this summer alongside continuing my MCAT pursuits. However, despite being an intro class, everyone who signed up for this class over the summer is experienced in weightlifting except for me. I’d be lying if I said it was embarrassing how pathetic I look doing my bicep curls with a 3 lb dumbbell while the student athlete next to me is doing them with a 40 lb dumbbell. Part of the reason why I felt okay enrolling in this course is because I thought that I’d be surrounded by other beginners like me just trying to become healthier. On the first day when I realized this wouldn’t be the case, I briefly toyed with the idea of dropping “Intro to Weightlifting” and finding some other easy 1 credit hour class to take online to spare myself the embarrassment. I ended up not going through with it. I wanted to learn how to weightlift, and I wasn’t exactly sure how many other opportunities in life I’d get to truly be in a learning environment where I’d be able to learn things like proper form with immediate feedback.

I’m glad that I didn’t drop the course, despite how embarrassed I feel everytime I end up panting after doing the lightest set available to me. Back when I did track and field in 9th and 10th grade of high school, I was technically supposed to go to conditioning once a week that consisted of a lot of weight lifting. I went only once, where one of the coaches basically followed me around the entire time to make sure that I was doing everything correctly. I know that she was only trying to help, but I was genuinely so mortified that I skipped every conditioning going forward. It’s genuinely really nice to learn the basics of weightlifting without that feeling of being judged by my peers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that the powerlifters in class with me probably feel a little sorry for me everytime I try to do a set of anything, but I just don’t care anymore. I attribute this to age and life experience mostly, and not being in class with a bunch of people that’ve known me since middle school. One of the things during undergrad that weighed on me heavily was being in classes with a lot of people I’ve known since basically 11 years old. It felt like in some ways, college was high school 2.0 and I’d never be able to escape people’s past notions of what a loser I was. On the other hand, I’ll never talk to any of these people ever again after summer semester ends. So why do I care what they think of me?

Surprisingly, I find weightlifting to be meditative for me. I love the act of clearing my mind as I focus on a spot on the wall while doing reps. I hope to slowly make exercise a healthy coping mechanism for me. Up until the age of about 19, I struggled with my body image quite a bit. I needed my outsides to look and feel as sick as my insides, and to me it meant being as thin and sickly looking as possible. The only form of exercise I permitted myself to do was cardio, because I was terrified of weightlifting making my body look “bigger”. I was constantly stuck in cycles of starving myself and overexercising. It’s been quite a few years since then, and my mental state has improved quite a bit through a lot of self work. I don’t necessarily feel the urge to be as small and sickly looking as possible. In fact, I don’t want to be as small and sickly looking as possible. I want to have the energy to do the things I love without my stomach being in pain all of the time. If my body changes because of me being more active that's a completely different situation, but by no means is it a goal of mine at all. I finally feel mentally well enough to start exercising regularly again without only seeing becoming small as my only motivation. I want to take good care of my body so that I live a long and happy life! When I use exercise as a way to relieve stress and become stronger I feel a lot better. I’m excited to continue learning lots about my body, new exercises, and start hitting new personal records. I’m happy to slowly be discovering that the only person’s validation I need is my own.

World's Shortest Life Update

Something that I’ve realized recently is that I struggle to put myself first. It doesn’t matter what form this takes: making sure my personality is easy to digest, making sure I’m hitting the milestones I’m “supposed” to hit in time. I’ll come back to this blog post with an amazingly written essay about the “how” and “why” I feel like I got to this point, but for now I’m using this space to make a promise for myself. I will treat myself the way that I would treat a friend. I will work on developing a personal sense of self that is not dependent on how others view me. I will work on identifying my own voice and interests. I will honor my life experiences. I will create a home within myself.

Reflecting on My Past Unhealthy Undergraduate Self

As 2023 begins, I've started to feel really retrospective about my life. I ended up graduating a semester early from college December of 2022. It's been really weird having people applaud me for graduating early, when in reality I chose to graduate early mostly because I was tired of studying psychology and didn't want to drag it out any longer than I had to. I didn't decide that medicine was something I truly wanted to do until two years into my degree, so my last two years of college were spent taking the courses for my psychology degree, courses for my French and biology minors, while also doing medical school prerequisites — needless to say I was consistently overbooked. I don't necessarily regret majoring in psychology (it was really interesting and I learned a lot!) but I wish that I had freed myself from the need for academic validation much earlier so that I wasn't constantly at 18-21 credit hours a semester. I wish that I had realized earlier that constantly working for the knife isn't "living". Constantly receiving grades for doing things that I enjoyed ended up sucking so much joy out of doing them.

All that being said, I'm choosing to forgive my past self for the mistakes that they made. I was young, and a lot of my belief system came from how my surroundings treated me. Although I consider the midwest United States home, it doesn't necessarily consider me one of it's own. For as long as I can remember, I've been forced to prove that I belonged here, a grace given to my peers but not me. I don't even have the privilege of using the "I was born here" retort many of me second generation American friends have. Under most circumstances, not being born here should be insignificant. But it becomes significant if you're like me, in a family with a pending green card application. My family applied for permanent residency here almost a decade ago, and we have yet to receive our pathway to citizenship. In the meantime, on a legal level, I've always been considered a foreigner to where I call home. It does not matter how many years I've spent being educated in the United States, how many memories I share with my American born friends, or how much I've planned my future to be here.

On paper, I'm not American. My entire life I've been forced to overperform to prove that I am worthy enough for the United States to want to invest in me. It's stripped away parts of my humanity. These past few years I've been forced to take all my hobbies and interests and make something tangible out of them, whether it's been taking my love for language learning and making it a minor or being forced to create watered down pieces of art for my activism. I've always had to play the role of being a "good" immigrant. An immigrant that's just happy to live in the United States, regardless of how many times it's dehumanized me. I haven't been able to express any emotions other than determination or criticize where I consider home in fear of being told to simply "leave" if I didn't like it here. If I want to stay I have to work hard, be good, and hopefully be worthy enough to obtain a work visa of my own. I feel like I've lost who I am. The things that once brought me joy became sources of stress.

Pretty much as soon as I graduated, I started to work on my neocities site. I've had my stints on various social media platforms as a creator (instagram, tumblr, twitter) but for one reason or another I'd always lose interest in the platform. I'd been familiar with neocities for a while at this point, but had never really seen much of a reason to create my own. What was the point of having a website if nobody was gonna see it? But then I realized that this was exactly why I should have a neocities.

I've been singled out and alienated for most of my life for one reason or another (gay, brown, immigrant....I could go on). I've always felt that I've had to put on an act to maintain the respect of those around me. I have to be strong, because any slight weakness is a reason for an opportunity to be taken away from me, a friendship to be ruined, or a potentially deportation. I want to use this site and the ability to not have my face or professional life tied to my creations to embrace how I truly feel without having to censor myself for respectability politics. Of course, I will have friends irl who know who I am online and I will have online friends who know who I am irl. That doesn't necessarily bother me. I am not ashamed at myself for feeling the way that I feel about things. The difference is that now these people can make the active choice to embrace this side of me if they feel like it, rather than potentially feeling obligated to follow an art instagram account that I have and have my vent-y art work blasted on their feeds. I'm honoring my authentic emotions while also not feeling like I'm burdening those around me. I'm putting my creations out into the world without having to think too hard about other people seeing them.

This 2023, I want to learn how to balance the things I do for my professional life while also taking the time to do the things I enjoy. One of the first boundaries I'm putting up is that I don't plan on creating artwork or writing unless it's for myself and myself only. I have a couple of things in mind visual novel wise I'd like to make, and I'd eventually like to make an RPG Maker game. The stories I have right now are pretty much realistic fiction, but once I've become more comfortable with character building and writing I'd like to explore using fantasy/fictional worlds and settings as well.

All in all, I can't do anything to change the past and the mental turmoil it's caused me. But I'm excited for the future, and that's not necessarily something that I can say I've felt for a very long time.